Population Distribution

Ghana Table of Contents

Population density increased steadily from thirty-six per square kilometer in 1970 to fifty-two per square kilometer in 1984; in 1990 sixty-three persons per square kilometer was the estimate for Ghana's overall population density. These averages, naturally, did not reflect variations in population distribution. For example, while the Northern Region, one of ten administrative regions, showed a density of seventeen persons per square kilometer in 1984, in the same year Greater Accra Region recorded nine times the national average of fifty-two per square kilometer. As was the case in the 1960 and 1970 figures, the greatest concentration of population in 1984 was to the south of the Kwahu Plateau. The highest concentration of habitation continued to be within the Accra-Kumasi-Takoradi triangle, largely because of the economic productivity of the region. In fact, all of the country's mining centers, timber-producing deciduous forests, and cocoa-growing lands lie to the south of the Kwahu Plateau. The Accra-Kumasi- Takoradi triangle also is conveniently linked to the coast by rail and road systems--making this area an important magnet for investment and labor.

By contrast, a large part of the Volta Basin was sparsely populated. The presence of tsetse flies, the relative infertility of the soil, and, above all, the scarcity of water in the area during the harmattan season affect habitation. The far north, on the other hand, was heavily populated. The eighty-seven persons to a square kilometer recorded in the 1984 census for the Upper East Region, for example, was well above the national average. This may be explained in part by the somewhat better soil found in some areas and the general absence of the tsetse fly; however, onchocerciasis, or river blindness, a fly-borne disease, is common in the north, causing abandonment of some land. With the improvement of the water supply through well-drilling and the introduction of intensive agricultural extension services as part of the Global 2000 program since the mid-1980s, demographic figures for the far north could be markedly different by the next census.

Another factor affecting Ghana's demography was refugees. At the end of 1994, approximately 110,000 refugees resided in Ghana. About 90,000 were Togolese who had fled political violence in their homeland beginning in early 1993. Most Togolese had settled in Volta Region among their ethnic kinsmen. About 20,000 Liberians were also found in Ghana, having fled the civil war in their country. Many were long-term residents. As a result of ethnic fighting in northeastern Ghana in early 1994, at least 20,000 Ghanaians out of an original group of 150,000 were still internally displaced at the end of the year. About 5,000 had taken up residence in Togo because of the strife.

More about the Population of Ghana.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress